Although no voting was observed by journalists, interim leader Hamid Karzai announced he'd been appointed president of Afghanistan's transitional government on opening day of the loya jirga (grand council). The council was delayed by one day, apparently because of infighting among its 1,500 delegates on the role of ex-king Mohamad Zahir. (Story, page 1.)
A bomb planted by Palestinian militants exploded under a bus carrying Israeli youths home from a West Bank cherry harvest, wounding three. The incident followed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's meeting with President Bush in Washington, in which the latter angered Palestinian leaders by saying "no one has confidence" in their new government. Bush also backed away from his own proposal for a midsummer conference on regional peace because "the conditions aren't there yet." Meanwhile, two Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel were shot dead in Hebron, with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claiming responsibility.
The moves made by India to help defuse the standoff with Pakistan over Kashmir aren't enough, the latter's president said. At a news conference on his visit to Abu Dhabi, Pervez Musharraf (above), called the withdrawal of Indian warships from stations near Pakistan and the reopening of airspace to Pakistani commercial flights only "a very small beginning." Despite the arrival in the region of US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to try to ease tensions further, a group of Muslim clerics, retired Army generals, and outlawed militant organizations vowed to defy Musharraf's ban on infiltrating Indian Kashmir.
Nine more people, among them an entire family, eluded guards and entered South Korea's embassy in Beijing. They bring to 17 the number of North Korean asylum-seekers who've reached the compound in recent days despite increased security efforts. China does not recognize the right of people to seek political asylum at embassies but has allowed 38 such North Koreans to leave for South Korea via third countries since March.
A protest march so big that "it will put our organizational ability to the test" was ordered for today by Fidel Castro to show Bush that Cuba rejects his "threats." One million residents of Havana alone were expected to turn out in support of a constitutional amendment that would enshrine "the economic, political, and social regimen of the republic" as "untouchable." Castro has led rallies on three successive Saturdays to repudiate calls by Bush for free speech and open elections there.